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Learn about your swollen finger, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your swollen finger from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Swollen Finger Checker

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Your Swollen Finger May Also be Known as:
Finger feels puffy
Finger feels swollen
Finger is puffy
Finger is swollen
Finger puffiness
Finger swelling
Puffy finger

Swollen Finger Symptoms

Swelling is the result of fluid buildup that gets trapped in your body's tissues. Most people first notice swelling because the affected body part may appear larger than normal. Often, a swollen finger can be easily identified by comparing its size to the size of your other fingers; however, sometimes the swelling may not be visibly obvious and difficult to discern. Often people with a swollen finger also experience other symptoms in addition to the swelling.

These associated swollen finger symptoms may include:

  • Stretched or shiny skin
  • Skin that dimples or pits after pressing on the affected area for a few seconds
  • Pain
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion
  • Warmth or redness of the affected area

If you notice any of these swollen finger symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor promptly in order to follow up on your symptoms, get a diagnosis and receive appropriate care.

Swollen Finger Causes Overview

Any condition that causes accumulation of fluid in the tissues of your finger will cause swelling. Swelling can occur throughout the body due to a variety of causes but swelling in just one finger has a more limited number of triggers. A swollen finger may not seem serious initially, but without prompt medical follow-up and care your symptoms could become worse.

Inflammatory causes:

  • Rheumatologic: This category includes inflammatory conditions involving the body's tissues and joints. Conditions such as arthritis and gout cause inflammation that easily brings fluid into the tissues leading to swelling, redness and tenderness of single fingers and often the big toe.
  • Infection:. Bacteria that is always present on the skin can easily get into the finger via a cut, bite or other puncture. The bacteria will infect the tissues of the finger and cause entrance of fluids into the tissues that result in inflammation, swelling and other associated symptoms. Viral infections can also cause swelling of the finger in people with jobs that require exposure of the finger to body parts such as the mouth (dentists, nurses, healthcare professionals). This condition is known as herpetic whitlow.

Environmental causes:

  • Trauma : Trauma to the finger that causes swelling can include simple mishaps such as jamming one's finger on a wall or table to serious accidents that result in broken bones.
  • Weather: Sometimes extremely cold or hot weather can trigger swelling in people with pre-existing conditions such as Raynaud's syndrome. Observe for any patterns in your finger swelling and tell your doctor in order to investigate an underlying condition.

Top 9 Swollen Finger Causes

  1. 1.Boxer's Fracture

    Boxer's fracture is a term for a fracture of one of fingers and generally occurs after a closed fist makes contact with a hard object.

    Apply ice to relieve pain and swelling. If there is an open wound, gently clean with soap and water. Proceed to your nearest urgent care clinic.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    finger pain, swollen finger, finger bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with boxer's fracture:
    finger pain, swollen finger
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  2. 2.Jammed Finger

    Jammed fingers are common in sports but may occur during daily activity.

    You should visit a physician or urgent care center in the next day. Generally, surgery is not required and splinting is sufficient.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    finger pain from an injury, recent finger injury, swollen finger, finger joint stiffness, finger bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with jammed finger:
    recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Non - Serious Finger Injury

    Finger injuries are very common & rarely need medical treatment.

    You can treat this at home with ice and rest. An X-ray would be necessary to rule out a fracture if you had swelling and difficulty moving the finger.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury, swollen finger, severe finger pain
    Symptoms that always occur with non-serious finger injury:
    recent finger injury
    Symptoms that never occur with non-serious finger injury:
    bent or crooked finger
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate care with a specialist. RA is a complex disease, which can require prescription medication to help slow down the damage to your joints, as well as pain killers such as ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Anaprox and Naprosyn). Exercise, especially swimming, can also help with pain and stiffness.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, muscle aches, joint pain, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  5. 5.Dislocated Finger

    Dislocations of the finger at the base of the finger are relatively rare. However, when they do happen, they can damage the blood supply to the finger and its nerves.

    You should go immediately to an urgent care or emergency room, where a physician can "reduce" - put the finger back into place - safely. Simple dislocations typically require just buddy tape to a nearby finger. Complicated fractures (need an x-ray) would need immobilization with a splint. Following reduction, the doctor should ensure that blood is flowing to the tips of the finger properly. If he/she cannot put it back into place, they should consult a hand surgeon.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    swollen finger, finger dislocation at the middle knuckle, bent or crooked finger
    Symptoms that always occur with dislocated finger:
    bent or crooked finger, finger dislocation at the middle knuckle
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  6. 6.Psoriatic Arthritis

    Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis (inflammation and swelling of joints) called psoriatic arthritis.

    You should visit your primary care physician to manage this disease as there are many treatment options. A treatment plan will often consist of therapy (physical, occupational, massage), patient education, exercise and rest, devices to protect joints, medicine and/or surgery.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    joint pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, joint stiffness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Osteoid Osteoma

    An osteoid osteoma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor that usually develops in the long bones of the legs. The thigh bone (femur) is affected most commonly, although the bones of the hand or the spine can have occasional involvement. This condition is most often found in young people.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This condition requires a variety of treatments such as minimally invasive surgery to kill or scrape off the tumor.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    lower back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that shoots to the butt, upper back pain, spontaneous back pain
    Symptoms that never occur with osteoid osteoma:
    hip pain, bilateral leg swelling, weakness in both arms, weakness of both legs
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Severe Frostbite of the Upper Limbs

    Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.

    Those with suspected frostbite should have wet clothing removed. Rubbing affected areas worsens damage to the tissue. You should go to the ER by car, immediately. If rewarming can occur without chance of refreezing, it can be tried in the field. There, the doctors will guide you in gently re-warming the wounded area in 98-102F (37C-39C) water. Further, ibuprofen, antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and possibly surgery will be done to treat the pain and dead tissue. IV fluids will also be started. Hydrotherapy will be done daily to help with the wounded area.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, hand pain, swollen finger, hand redness, cold fingers
    Symptoms that always occur with severe frostbite of the upper limbs:
    cold fingers
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  9. 9.Enchondroma

    Enchondroma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor of cartilage, which is a type of tissue that provides lubrication and shock absorbance in joints. These tumors usually begin during childhood, and are discovered in people between 10 and 20 years of age. Enchondromas are very common, and are in fact the most common tumor of the hand.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will likely coordinate care with a muscle and bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon) for evaluation of the tumor. Most often these tumors require no treatment at all.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    arm pain, thigh pain, spontaneous hand pain, spontaneous wrist pain, spontaneous forearm pain
    Symptoms that always occur with enchondroma:
    spontaneous hand pain
    Symptoms that never occur with enchondroma:
    unintentional weight loss
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Swollen Finger Treatments and Relief

If you notice a swollen finger after an injury or trauma such as jamming or hitting your finger:

  • Rest, Ice, and Elevate: Put an ice pack on your finger or place your finger in ice water every 15 minutes. (Except for possible Raynaud's Syndrome – see above). Maintain your finger elevated and still to minimize further irritation and prevent continued fluid accumulation in your tissues.
  • Protect: If the pain and swelling persists, you can protect the affected finger from further trauma by attaching it to an adjacent finger using tape or a self-adhesive wrap. The affected finger will be less likely to move which prevents further inflammation and fluid accumulation.

If your swollen finger symptoms persist for a prolonged period and worsen despite not seeming related to a traumatic event, make an appointment with your doctor.

Depending on the swollen finger cause your doctor may initiate:

  • Antibiotics: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics if your swollen finger symptoms are due to a bacterial infection.
  • Rheumatologic Medications: There are several types of medications that combat rheumatologic conditions that may be causing your swollen finger. Talk to your doctor to discuss and come to an agreement about the best type of treatment.

Seek medical care immediately if:

  • Your finger appears deformed.
  • You cannot straighten your finger.
  • The area becomes hot and inflamed and you develop a fever.
  • Swelling and pain increases significantly and persists.
  • The finger becomes numb and turns white or pink.

These symptoms may be related to a more serious cause such as a broken finger resulting in decreased blood flow to the finger and/or hand.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Finger

  • Q.Is your hand swelling getting better or worse?
  • Q.Is your hand swelling constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.How long has your hand been swollen?
  • Q.How swollen is your hand?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our swollen finger symptom checker.

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Swollen Finger Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced swollen finger have also experienced:

    • 6% Finger Pain
    • 3% Joint Pain
    • 3% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced swollen finger had symptoms persist for:

    • 36% Less Than a Week
    • 31% Less Than a Day
    • 17% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced swollen finger were most often matched with:

    • 21% Boxer's Fracture
    • 12% Non - Serious Finger Injury
    • 8% Jammed Finger
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Swollen Finger Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having swollen finger.

Take a quiz